Since IZOD became the title sponsor of the IndyCar Series on Nov. 6, 2009 (henceforth, we should refer to the years in the IndyCar world as P.I. or A.I.), they've stepped up the marketing of the series and drivers in ways an IndyCar fan could only dream of during the barren years of little to no title sponsorship.
(Don't believe me? Just take a look at the Silent Pagoda's comparison of IZOD's work this weekend to that of Northern Lights and PepBoys. It's good stuff over there.)
While IZOD has put on events for the series everywhere it has gone, the marketing geniuses there put the series on display all weekend in Los Angeles and Long Beach, shutting down Hollywood Boulevard for the majority of Thursday and getting late-night attention via Jimmy Kimmel.
Getting an actual celebrity to be the starter in Mark Wahlberg and somehow convincing P. Diddy to ride in the two-seater is just one example of IZOD's pull. And to be honest, it sure beats having soap opera stars getting red carpet treatment (let's hope that ends at the 94th running of the Indianapolis 500).
Then to top it off, a packed house in Long Beach sees one of their own (kind of) in Ryan Hunter-Reay win the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. In dominating fashion. With an IZOD livery.
Honestly, the IZOD IndyCar Series cannot ask for a better buildup and groundswell of excitement than what they've had through the first month of the season. The racing has been exciting (for the most part). Judging from the TV, crowds have been up and energetic. Multiple teams have made runs at wins (though Penske has three of the four). And an American driver won a race.
About the only thing that would create a bigger stir heading into Indianapolis would be for a certain driver with the initials DP to win at Kansas in two weeks. Whether or not she'll be competitive on the ovals remains to be seen.
But I do know one thing - with Kansas Speedway sitting 30 miles from Kansas City, Mo., the potential for a party in the Power and Light district is high. And with IZOD marketing the series so well right now, I would fully expect them to have a presence in the City of Fountains, which is exactly what fans are beginning to expect in every stop the IZOD IndyCar Series makes.
No longer is the IndyCar Series just another race, with drivers topping 200 mph (which they don't do anywhere in that other series except for two tracks - stop the lies, people!). With IZOD on board, the IZOD IndyCar Series is making itself known for big events, big parties and exciting racing. And that's a clear-cut recipe for success, now and in the long term.